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What solutions are there to meet users’ growing video storage and retention needs?

What solutions are there to meet users’ growing video storage and retention needs?
In video surveillance, data is getting bigger and retention times longer. This then poses storage challenges for users. This note discusses some of the technologies that help meet users’ storage needs.
In video surveillance, data is getting bigger and retention times longer. This then poses storage challenges for users. This note discusses some of the technologies that help meet users’ storage needs.
Needless to say, storage is a critical element in security. In the event of a crime, accident or customer dispute, stored footage is needed for investigative and prosecutorial purposes. What’s the use of video surveillance if the captured video is not properly stored?      
Yet users’ video storage needs have grown more complex over the years. This is especially the case amid the rise of UHD, 4K cameras. These device generate huge video data that constrain users’ storage resources.
Adding to this is the issue of video retention. How long the video should be retained, of course, differs by vertical market and geographic region. Most require users to store video for at least three months; and some require retention of several years, if not indefinitely.
“Video data retention in retail and banking is typically a minimum of 90 days, but many banks will store data for longer periods of time. This is typically mandated by the bank’s compliance and risk management departments,” said Alex Johnson, Senior Director for Analytics and Strategy at Verint.
“The average video retention periods are roughly 30 days before deletion. This would be the average standard in the United States for majority of the projects. Most of these requirements are also dependent on the end users’ needs and government regulations. Some government policies do require the video to be retained for 5 to 7 years,” said Darren Giacomini, Director of Advanced Systems Architecture, and Eugene Kozlovitser, Technology Director, at BCD International. “Regulations in the gaming industry continue to require between 15-30 days of retention at full frame rate. Corrections has seen a dynamic shift in policy, with some governing bodies requiring 3-7 years of active retention.”
“Some organizations, like manufacturing and food processing, incorporate video surveillance into their safety/quality control processes such that their surveillance video may be retained for 1-2 years depending on their company policy,” said Anthony Koo, Business Development Manager at Quantum. “We are also seeing AI developers retaining video archives for longer periods and using their archived video with machine learning to train their AI during the development stage for enhanced prediction accuracy and shortened development cycles. They retain their video for a very long duration … multiple years and occasionally indefinitely.”

Hyperconverged storage and a tiered approach

Amid higher resolution and longer retention, conventional video storage solutions have become increasingly insufficient to meet users’ needs. “Conventional video surveillance implementations leveraged network video recorders (NVRs) or, in larger installations, standard IT servers repurposed for video surveillance. As storage requirements have grown due to camera count, resolution, frame rate and retention times, conventional video surveillance implementations were unable to support the mission,” Koo said. “NVRs were known for unreliable retention and performance, single points of failure, poor data protection and difficulty scaling. IT storage systems repurposed for video surveillance were known for poor video performance; limited scalability; expensive, proprietary storage hardware; and of course, specialized management skills.”
That said, end users with extended storage needs now go beyond conventional NVR solutions. “Typically, customers will manage their retention time through several methods. First, they typically purchase enough storage when they originally purchase their systems and they will purchase an extra buffer to ensure that they have enough space for future expansions. Second, if they are experiencing retention time challenges, banks might add things like video analytics or motion detection and only record when ‘events’ happen, eliminating older video that has no motion in it and is inherently less valuable. Finally, customers might choose to extend their storage capabilities through cloud storage services provided by the video management system manufacturers,” Johnson said.
Indeed, more advanced storage solutions now allow customers to go for a “tiered approach,” whereby the more recent and important data go to a higher tier and the older and “colder” data go to a lower tier. “Purpose-built video surveillance systems leverage high-performance flash storage, erasure coding and tiered storage resulting in 99.9999 percent resiliency (no downtime or data loss); sustained performance (no dropped frames); high scalability (entry to enterprise); and lower cost and complexity (single pane of glass management with proactive system health monitoring and alerts),” Koo said. “This approach is often known as hyperconverged storage. Erasure coding distributes data across various systems for resiliency. Parallel writes ensure lossless ingest. As needs grow, additional systems can be added for on-demand scalability. Just as important, for those with extended retention needs, video surveillance will autonomously be moved to low-cost tiers of storage such as object storage, tape and even cloud.”

Hybrid cloud

Speaking of cloud, hybrid cloud, which combines the best of onsite and pure-cloud storage, has become a more viable storage option. “Hybrid cloud works by leveraging onsite storage for a given retention time, then offloading the long-term storage to the cloud, thus reducing the on-site storage requirements, while maintaining retention. Outages associated with service providers, and loss of connectivity to the cloud, does not result in data loss, as the data is stored locally, and can be scheduled for offload to cloud based storage when service provider connectivity is restored,” Giacomini and Kozlovitser said. “Hybrid cloud is emerging as the leader in long term storage throughout the physical security market. With storage becoming centralized, hybrid cloud storage is providing a cost-effective solution for offloading long-term retention requirements, while maintaining security of customer data. Long-term retention, and embedded disaster recovery services, make hybrid cloud the emerging technology of the future in this space.”

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